Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Give till it hurts

Bud loves a good underwriting announcement. In fact, his fondness for underwriting announcements is one of the things that prevents us from exposing him to any commercial television at all, lest our days become filled with catchy jingles and advertising copy. It doesn't bother Bud, though - he's perfectly happy with the underwriting announcements he's adopted from PBS Kids.

One of his favorite activities these days is walking through the house, happily gathering videos, books and CDs from PBS shows, then lining them up and moving down the row, announcing each in turn:

"Clifford the Big Red Dog is sponsored in part by the U.S. Department of Education..."

"Curious George is brought to you today by Shea Homes, Caring since 1881..."

"Funding for Arthur was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting..."

"Between the Lions was made possible by a Ready to Learn Grant..."

He's got a million of 'em.

I've just discovered that he plays a similar game on the computer, where he can now do underwriting announcements for shows he doesn't watch or shows that are not carried by our local PBS affiliate. He goes to the PBS Kids website, clicks onto the show's individual page, then scrolls to the bottom to look for logos. Now that he can read, he's able to improvise and create underwriting announcements of his own:

"Major funding for Cyberchase is provided by the National Science Foundation..."

"Fetch with Ruff Ruffman is sponsored in part by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations..."

And, of course, every single one of his underwriting announcements ends the same way:

"And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you."

Until a few days ago, I was not aware of Bud's high-tech computerized version of the underwriting game, so I was confused when he jumped up from the row of videos he'd been announcing on the floor and ran over to the kitchen table, where my husband and I were finishing breakfast.

"Mama," he said. "I want to do my contributions to my PBS stations."

"Yes, I know, Bud," I said. "You're doing them. And you're doing a great job."

"No," he said emphatically. "I want to do my contriBUtions to my PBS STAtions!"

"I don't understand, Bud," I said.


I wondered if my son was suddenly becoming philanthropic, so I asked tentatively, "You want to make a contribution to your PBS station?"

"YES!" he replied, relieved that I was finally getting it.

"Do you know what a contribution is, Bud?" I asked.

"What?" he replied.

"It means you give money to PBS so they can make the shows you like to watch."


"You want to give your money to PBS so they can make the shows you like to watch?"


"Okay," I said, "Then you need to go upstairs and get your tooth fairy money, and we'll say 'Here, PBS Kids, you can have my tooth fairy money to make the shows I like to watch.' Okay?"

"NO!" Bud shrieked, clearly aghast at the suggestion that he'd fork over the money he's been saving to buy the Teletubbies DVD due to be released on May 1st.

My husband lowered his newspaper and looked across the table at us.

"Unfortunately, son," he said, "I'm afraid most of the country feels the same way about it."


Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or is PBS getting more 'commercial' in their sharing of sponsors? I remember that they used to only say and show the name (I don't think it was even a logo, just a name) of the companies sponsoring shows, and now they have mini-commercials. They may not be able to show products, but they are still commercials! The number of times my kids have asked for '60-second Cinnamon Rolls'...

I hate that. I wrote in last year to complain about that, actually, and got a reply from PBS to the effect of 'We're very grateful for any money we can get.'
It's sad that the companies seem to be bullying their way into what used to be commerical-free television.
But I guess if more people would contribute that wouldn't happen.
(off soapbox now):)h

kristina said...

Fortunately Bud (and your blog) has some underwriters with deep enough pockets, and deeper hearts.

Another Autism Mom said...

That's so cute. I wonder if he wants his name said on the announcements...

My son does a similar thing with his videos (he's 3). He loves to say "Hit Entertainment" or "www dot sesame street dot org"

Daisy said...

We've donated to public radio during Amigo's favorite shows so that he can hear the donation announced on the air. We donated to "Calling all Pets" in honor of our rabbits. All three, by name.

MOM-NOS said...

Another Autism Mom, actually I think he was asking for permission to go play the "underwriting game" on the computer - he wanted to "do" his "contibutions to your PBS station" on the computer. The problem was that I didn't know he had developed a computer-version of the game, so I didn't realize what he was asking. (I figured it out a few days later when I saw the way he was playing on the computer - click to show, scroll to logos, make announcement; click to new show, scroll to logos, make announcement; etc.)

Anonymous said...

That's brilliant! Dad-NOS is so absolutely right . . . no one wants to give to PBS, so we wind up with corporate public broadcasting. Oye. In Japan, everyone has to give to NHK, and it makes for great TV. It's a public television tax, and it worth it. Wish we had that here, but then Bud wouldn't have such a great list of underwriting messages to share!

Fabulous post, MOM-NOS! You do rock, and not just with Paul McCarthy!

Mom to Mr. Handsome said...

Too funny. Tooth fairy money is also a coveted commodity around here too.
Boo has been caught in similar circumstances, especially now since she has started to recieve an allowance for doing her chores. The toys in the toy store are in her words "really expensive". She then learned about the word "profit" when she saw what the zoo wanted for a tiny stuffed animal. Lessons about money are never fun. (lol)


Anonymous said...

Well, I am more than happy to announce that we are among the folks who regularly contribute to PBS. We are lucky here in the Great White North to get the Detroit PBS and the Spokane PBS. It is worth every dollar we send to know that somewhere out there, someone is loving the shows they broadcast besides us. So, Bud...I am glad you are a Particularly Brilliant Supporter of your favourite shows.


WarriorMom said...

Your post made me laugh. It's priceless!

LAA and Family said...

Your Bud and my Samuel must be kindred spirits, so many of the their interests are the same. Samuel likes repeating the sponsors he hears on PBS as well. One day at church he came up with a little twist of his own. While we sat in the cry room he said "Church, brought to you by Jesus, Inc."

KAL said...

This made me laugh! Bud is so creative. Sam has been announcing "And by contributions to your PBS station from viewers like you. Thank you." after every video or show or tivo'd event for the last few weeks -- doesn't even matter if it's PBS. Love it.

mumkeepingsane said...

I loved that post. Patrick says "coming soon to beatres !(rhymes with and is meant to be theatres)

Wendy said...

We'd love to contribute to all sorts of things but we feel like we should be a charity all on our own (darn therapies cost so much money!).

I was waiting for a good time to ask this and now seems the time. When I first started reading your blog you wrote about Bud's echolalia (who can forget your wonderful Starbuck's post?!). I believe at the time most, if not all, of Bud's speech consisted of repeating what other's had said to him and what he'd heard on things like PBS. Would you say that most of his speech is still echolalic or is it now mostly spontaneous speech? (feel free to think my question is too nosy and ignore it! :) )

rachelblue said...

I loved underwriting announcements when I was a kid, too -- only I was convinced that "viewers like me" meant that I was contributing to the creation of the shows just by watching. When I found out that it meant I was actually supposed to donate money, I was crushed...much like Bud!

Maddy said...

Excellent! Should contact them [PBS that is to say] and make the most of the last few days of 'Awareness,' had to be useful. Great Job!

mysamiam said...

Bud rocks! I love his memory, his speech, his way of thinking. You made me smile! Thanks!!

Amy said...

This post made my day! It also reminded me of when I used to babysit my cousin, who coincidentally or not is on the spectrum. As a preschooler, his absolute favorite part of watching the same Thomas the Tank Engine video each day was the FBI warning--he'd jump up and yell the letters he saw on the screen. He's in high school now, but I still yell "FBI!" when I see the warning at the beginning of videos and giggle at the memory of how much pleasure that gave my cousin.

J said...

The way Bud emphasizes his words is precisely how my son does it. I can picture it now. Classic.

Anonymous said...

Too funny. Thomas one day surprised me by spelling, D-A-N-I-M-A-L-S, Danimals. Just like on the PBS underwriting announcement.

Anonymous said...

LOL well at least his thought was in the right place... sort of... ;) He's such a cutie!

MOM-NOS said...

Wendy, I'm glad you asked that question because it has prompted me to spend the past several days paying attention to how much of Bud's speech is scripted vs spontaneous. I think I would have overestimated the amount of spontaneous speech he uses if I hadn't been listening closely this week.

Right now, I'd say that about 40% of his speech is pure script. He uses it especially when he's playing, to narrate whatever action he's doing. Some of this scripted speech is mitigated - he changes the details of the script to accommodate the current situation, but he's not using this speech to try to communicate. (Well, that's not entirely accurate - he may be using it to get us to engage in scripted play with him. But he's not using it for interpersonal interaction, if that makes any sense.)

Another 30% or so of Bud's speech is mitigated echolalia that he uses (often in a very sophisticated way) communicatively. He can break down, restructure, and fashion together his scripts to get his messages across well.

So that leaves about 30% of his speech that is spontaneous. His spontaneus speech is getting more sophisticated as well, but it's often clear when he's using it because it tends to have atypical syntax and grammar.

That's how he is at home. My sense is that he uses much less spontaneous language at school.

The greatest part - and where I've seen the most development recently - is that he has more and more communicative intent with his speech (about 60% of his language, as outined above). He talks a lot now (in both scripted and spontaneous ways) to make commentary, to ask about situations or people, and to share experience, as opposed to simply making requests or responding to questions.

GClef1970 said...

(Just catching up -- you dropped off that darn Bloglines).

I actually remember hearing the contributions as a child while watching the Electric Company, Zoom and Vision On. (if that gives away my age!) But, they were usually things like the NEA, not McDonald's.

I LOVED every second of this post, right down to DAD-NOS' wisdom.